CovidTM: Translating faster when speed is of the essence

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Let’s face it: The coronavirus isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With more countries affected, more people on lockdown, and more businesses folding up each day, COVID-19 will likely be a plague we’re gonna have to adapt to, whether it’s for months or even years.

The good news is, we humans are good at adapting, and we’re already starting to see some of these adaptations. While some behavior, such as hoarding, is regrettable, we’ve mostly been showing the better, human side of humankind. This includes actions such as hotels being turned into hospitals, car plants converted to produce medical supplies, 3D-printing enthusiasts starting open-source lung ventilator projects, and many more.

The translation industry is no exception: Many businesses and professionals are putting in pro bono hours to translate coronavirus-related articles and projects. But even those who cannot afford to give away their time for free can do something for the greater good.

Even those who cannot afford to give away their time for free can do something for the greater good.

To make a small but important contribution, Smartcat is now introducing CovidTM, a public translation memory for coronavirus-related content. More specifically, we will be collecting coronavirus-related input from translation companies and professionals in all language pairs and compiling them in one big, public TMX file.

We hope this will help translation service providers to translate faster and with greater consistency. In a time when every piece of information is outdated in a matter of days, this speed and productivity boost can help keep people up-to-date with everything that’s going on and, who knows, maybe even save lives.

In a time when every piece of information is outdated in a matter of days, this speed and productivity boost can save lives.

How CovidTM works

To make this happen, we invite all translation companies and professionals to upload their coronavirus-related translation memories via this web form. (In Smartcat, you can download the TM for any of your translated documents into a translation memory in a couple of clicks, and most other CAT tools can do this too.)

Once we’ve accumulated enough TMs, we will combine them all in one big TM that we will publish via GitHub and update regularly from then on. You will then be able to upload this collaborative TM to any new coronavirus-related projects.

How exactly will we benefit?

  • You will translate faster. With features such as concordance search, you won’t have to spend time googling for medical or scientific terms you don't know.

  • You will translate more accurately. Again, you will be able to see how others have translated similar terms and ensure your translation is more consistent.

  • You won’t need to translate what others have already translated. A lot of COVID-19 content encompasses WHO recommendations, governmental policies, and other types of communications that migrate from one document to another. Using translation memories keeps us from doing the same work twice.

What do I do now?

If you have recently translated a coronavirus-related article, update, document, etc.:

  1. Contact your customer or another rightholder and ask them if they would agree to having both the source text and its translation made public for this purpose. You can use the following text if you’re not sure how to word it:

Hey ____,

I’m helping build CovidTM, a multilingual corpus of coronavirus-related content that any translator or company will be free to use. The creators and participants hope that this will make translating these urgent and important texts much more efficient and accurate and, in the end, help disseminate important scientific, political, and social information faster.

As I have recently translated your ____ about ____, would you be willing to grant me the right to share both the source text and its translation with the world?

Thank you and stay safe!

In times like these, customers are more likely to reply positively to such an altruistic request.

  1. Go to your CAT tool and download the TMX file of your coronavirus-related content.

  2. Submit the TMX file via this form.

  3. Subscribe and stay tuned for updates at the CovidTM GitHub page.

Thank you for being a part of this — and stay safe!